Found imagery and innocent optimism collide to brilliant effect in artist James Springall's charming new series
A glassy-eyed pigeon urging you to enjoy your Saturday; a go-getting grandma canoeing her way to thrilling plans for the week ahead; an ambitious starlet lasciviously taking a shower under a watering can in a photographic studio... In the End All Things Will Be Known, an ongoing series by James Springall comprising weird and wonderful paper pastiches, is a dose of optimism that even the most cynically minded would struggle to remain impervious to.
Armed only with scalpel and glue, the London-based collage artist crafts hilarious yet cryptic juxtapositions of fortune cookie messages and found imagery of all sorts. A "magpie" for beautiful images, Springall is convinced that “beauty can be found in the strangest places” – so it’s no surprise that his treasure trove of images ranges from pizza menus to vintage National Geographic issues, and from books on the history of birds, to bodybuilding annuals and pornographic magazines. With just the right balance of playful, lighthearted spirit and mystique, these handmade collages reveal Springall's penchant for vintage imagery. "Everything seems to look the same, and there’s sometimes staleness to the daily visual bread we’re fed. There’s a certain aesthetic quality to images from several years ago that has more soul to it."
The artist’s fascination with fortune cookies began several months ago, when, in his own words: "I opened one and was just struck by the naïve simplicity of the optimistic message. There's something nice about not knowing the exact truth about things." He has been collecting them ever since. Digging into the obscure history of this curious tradition, Springall discovered that the alleged inventor of the fortune cookie is a Chinese immigrant living in the States, who, saddened by the welfare of the impoverished people he saw wandering past his shop, started handing out positive notes. However, a number of ex-pat Japanese restauranteurs have also laid claim to its invention. "No one really knows how they came about, and that typifies what I find so interesting about their vague prophecies,” Springall explains. “There’s a dubious nature to them, but essentially they’re designed to make people feel better about themselves”.